Fifty-three times in the New Testament, the Greek word 'Elpo' or one of its derivatives is used. It translates into English as 'Hope.' However, like many translated words, we have robbed this word of its meaning. Our definition of Hope is rather insipid because it allows for the possibility of disappointment. For example, we hope for a certain type of weather, a certain sports team prevails, our retirement savings may carry us through, our job will be secure, etc. This is little more than 'wishful thinking.' It may or may not materialize. Not so with 'Elpo.' A sharp definition of this word in Greek is as follows: Elpo is waiting with expectation and anticipation, something that is absolutely certain. There is no possibility for disappointment because the outcome has already been settled.
But how can we, as believers, embrace this stringent Greek meaning of the word? How can we make such dogmatic statements and establish our entire life on this definition? Are we naïve? Are we pretending? On what basis do we lay claim to this kind of 'Hope.' Here are five quick thoughts. I hope they are like a boost of octane for your spiritual fuel and will help you to spread 'Elpo.'
We trust completely in the character of God as revealed in Christ. Light, Love and Life came among us. Through the revelation of His Word, we have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. When we have seen Jesus, we have seen God the Father. We are introduced to a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-wise. We encounter a God who cannot lie, cannot deny Himself and does not change in His demeanour toward us. Relational experience with this God who has made Himself known to us establishes us in 'Elpo – Hope.'
We ease our frenetic schedule enough to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. The busyness of our life can sometimes border on the insane. When we are preoccupied with all the demanding, informing, misinforming voices around us, we can lose a grip on Hope. It is then we must intentionally quiet ourselves, like Elijah in the cave at Horeb, until the wind and the earthquake and the fire subsides. We hear the voice of the Holy Spirit reminding us that we are sons and daughters of God; when we re-establish our identity with God in Christ through the witness of the Holy Spirit, our 'Elpo' factor surges.
We steep ourselves in the testimony of the great cloud of witnesses. For centuries, millions of people of every age, every language, from every race and colour have chronicled their experiences with God. From the testimony of the first man to the pages of the latest Christian biography, we have the recorded testimony of those who have personally proven the goodness and faithfulness of God. When Hope begins to slip, it is wise to pick up an autobiography or a biography of some trail-blazing saint who ran the race finished the course and received the crown of life. When we see the faithfulness of God in the lives of others, our 'Elpo' meter starts to climb.
We recount the track record of God's faithfulness in our own experience. I am glad that I have taken the time to recall, recount and retell each of the times when the faithfulness of God has been apparent in my life. When I was nineteen and a new believer, I had little personal proof of the goodness and faithfulness of God. That was over 50 years ago. Experience by experience: the good, bad and ugly of life have accumulated. In each and every circumstance, I have personally verified that God can be trusted. Never have I been abandoned or rejected or left to perish by my Heavenly Father. Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever, my 'Elpo' energy has never been greater.
We remind ourselves that His promise for our future is a forever promise. God has made definitive statements about our future. Those who wrote down inspired scripture delivered those statements to us. David – Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil – I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Jesus – I am going to prepare a place for you that where I am there you may be also. Paul – Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him. John the Revelator – The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our God and of His Son, and He shall reign forever and ever. Mercy Me captured this thought in their popular song – I can only Imagine. When the Greek 'Elpo' starts to slide into the uncertainty of English Hope, the antidote is to focus on God's 'yes and amen' promises that guarantee our future.
So, how's your 'Elpo?'
Let us hold unswervingly to the ELPO we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NLT